MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 912 this week

Howl (2010)

6.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.8/10 from 9,117 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 47 user | 159 critic | 24 from Metacritic.com

As Allen Ginsberg talks about his life and art, his most famous poem is illustrated in animation while the obscenity trial of the work is dramatized.

Writers:

(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by)
Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 49 titles
created 13 Mar 2012
 
a list of 26 titles
created 24 Jun 2012
 
a list of 33 titles
created 8 months ago
 
a list of 34 titles
created 6 months ago
 
a list of 46 titles
created 4 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Howl" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Howl (2010)

Howl (2010) on IMDb 6.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Howl.
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

A man returns to New York after years in exile to save the girl he loves.

Director: Jay Anania
Stars: James Franco, Julianne Nicholson, Martin Donovan
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

A biography of American poet Hart Crane who committed suicide at the age of 32 by jumping off the steamship SS Orizaba.

Director: James Franco
Stars: James Franco, Michael Shannon, Stacey Miller
Good Time Max (2007)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Two genius brothers grow up and grow apart as one becomes a successful surgeon and the other pursues a drug-fueled high life.

Director: James Franco
Stars: James Franco, Vince Jolivette, Wilmer Calderon
Sal I (2011)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.5/10 X  

James Franco's Sal chronicles the final hours of the life of actor Sal Mineo, one-time teen idol and star of the blockbuster films Rebel Without a Cause and Exodus.

Director: James Franco
Stars: Val Lauren, Jim Parrack, James Franco
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A murder in 1944 draws together the great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.

Director: John Krokidas
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall
Maladies (2012)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A talented and successful actor retires at a young age due to a perceived mental illness. Now living in a small town with his deranged sister and his best friend, we watch as their Maladies intertwine.

Director: Carter
Stars: James Franco, Catherine Keener, Fallon Goodson
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A reclusive author of spiritual books, is pursued for advice by a single mother and a man fresh out of rehab.

Director: John Hindman
Stars: Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham, Lou Taylor Pucci
Camille I (2008)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A twisted honeymoon adventure about a young couple on their way to Niagara Falls.

Director: Gregory Mackenzie
Stars: Sienna Miller, James Franco, David Carradine
Quad (2013)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A hard-living salesman becomes a quadriplegic after an accident.

Director: Michael Uppendahl
Stars: Aaron Paul, Jeff Daniels, Tom Sizemore
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Director: Jake Szymanski
Stars: Michael Daniel Cassady, Jeff Daniels, Colton Dunn
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Director: Mark Atienza
Stars: Ali Pomerantz, Mark Atienza, Scott Caan
Blind Spot (2002)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Three strangers are drawn together in search of Darcy, a man they all love who has been involved with some nasty underworld business.

Director: Stephan Woloszczuk
Stars: James Franco, Mark Patrick Gleason, Morgan H. Margolis
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Todd Rotondi ...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Heather Klar ...
Kaydence Frank ...
Allen's Girlfriend (as Kadance Frank)
...
...
...
Nancy Spence ...
Edit

Storyline

It's San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. Howl, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist, society's reaction (the obscenity trial), and animation that echoes the poem's surreal style. All three coalesce in hybrid that dramatizes the birth of a counterculture. Written by Sundance Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Obscenity Trial That Started a Revolution. The Poem That Rocked a Generation.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content including language and images, and for some drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 August 2010 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Uivo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$51,185 (USA) (24 September 2010)

Gross:

$617,334 (USA) (4 February 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
Allen Ginsberg: "Howl" for Carl Salomon. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...
[continues reading but unheard, credits roll]
See more »


Soundtracks

Dim the lights
Written by Teddy Lasry(I)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The Beat goes on
12 October 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Poetry can seriously damage your health. That's the main thing I've learned from recent biopics in which Johnny Depp's pox-ridden John Wilmot (The Libertine), Ben Whishaw's consumptive Keats (Bright Star) and Gwyneth Paltrow's depressive Sylvia Plath (Sylvia) have cornered the market in self-destructive behaviour.

I approached Howl, a movie about Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. On the one hand, it stars James Franco as Ginsberg and Mad Men's Jon Hamm as his lawyer, Jake Ehrlich. I'd watch these two ridiculously handsome actors in just about anything, but I really didn't want to sit through another Ode to Angst.

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman -- The Times of Harvey Milk, The Celluloid Closet – are renowned for their documentary work and this film was originally conceived along those lines. Ginsberg's epic poem "Howl" was first published in 1955, but its explicit references to drugs and homosexuality (amongst other things) led to the prosecution of his publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1957. The intention was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of those events.

But instead of a straight documentary, the film-makers have opted to show us three sides of "Howl". There's the poem itself, with Franco trying to channel the spirit of Ginsberg as he addresses a rapt audience, in the b/w sequences from 1955. By contrast, the trial scenes are shot in colour and feature many voices with differing opinions about the merit of Ginsberg's work. Finally, the poet's own thoughts are recorded by an unseen interviewer. At the centre of all this, "Howl" is also given visual form, with a series of animations created by artist Eric Drooker.

For me, the courtroom scenes are the most enjoyable and thought-provoking element of the film. A succession of expert witnesses – some pompous, some just prejudiced – try to get to grips with issues of literary merit and the nature of obscenity. David Strathairn is admirably straight-faced in the role of prosecuting attorney Ralph McIntosh, as he tiptoes through a minefield of sexual imagery and baffling phrases like "angel-headed hipsters". Hamm's tight-lipped defence lawyer brings a sense of intellectual superiority to the proceedings – he's a crusading Don Draper with the added bonus of a moral compass.

Ginsberg himself wasn't on trial here and wasn't present at the proceedings, but the debate about whether the law is an effective tool for censoring and constraining artists remains highly topical. As one of the more thoughtful witnesses (played by Treat Williams) explains, "You can't translate poetry into prose. That's why it is poetry." The poet's own perspective on his life and work is captured in conversation with an off-camera reporter. A bearded, chain-smoking Ginsberg talks openly about his homosexuality, his mother's psychiatric problems, and fellow writer Carl Solomon, to whom "Howl" was dedicated. This strand of the film was inspired by a never-published interview that Ginsberg gave to Time magazine, but the film's dialogue is culled from a variety of sources.

Trying to explain the process of translating feelings into verse is a hard thing to pull off on film. Perhaps that's why most film-makers prefer to concentrate on the broken marriages and substance abuse that go hand in hand with tortured literary geniuses. Epstein and Friedman, who also wrote the screenplay, have done a good job trying to condense biographical detail and literary theory into what is basically a monologue – without being pretentious or boring. Brief flashbacks of Ginsberg pounding away at his typewriter, with his friend Neal Cassady, and in bed with long-term partner Peter Orlovsky, help to round out a portrait of the artist.

The final piece in the jigsaw – the poem – is the most problematic aspect of the film. How much of the work does the audience need to hear, and how do you hold their attention through some long and difficult passages? I quickly became bored of Franco's declamatory style, as he reads to a gathering of smug-looking hipsters at the Six Gallery in San Francisco.

When the recitation continues over Eric Drooker's animation, the effect is even worse. It's a matter of taste whether you thrill to the repeated imagery of fire, the minotaur-like Moloch and weirdly elongated bodies flying across the night sky. I prefer not to have someone else's interpretation of the verse foisted on me. Archive footage from the period would have been another option to fill the gap, but overall I think the poetry should have been used more sparingly.

Howl is bold, stylish attempt to capture a period in the mid-20th century when writing poetry could be an act of political rebellion – a shot across the bows of dull, conformist, heterosexual America. By casting the handsome and charismatic James Franco as Ginsberg, the directors could have turned this into yet another movie about the cult of personality. Instead they've largely succeeded in keeping the focus on the verse and on the act of writing. As the man said, "There's no Beat Generation. Just a bunch of guys trying to get published."


12 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Should I see this? miss_frango
Gay Scenes or Kissing atabeira70
where's the Rudd? thebhart
First pics of Franco tracy_m_15
First song chewitt-2
Will Bob Dylan be in this? trueromance01
Discuss Howl (2010) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page